NBA Preview from The Sports Network
Saturday, March 24th (All times eastern)
Memphis Grizzlies (25-20) at Los Angeles Clippers (26-21), 3 p.m.
(Sports Network) - A pair of Western Conference teams jockeying for playoff position are set to clash this afternoon at Staples Center, where the Los Angeles Clippers will begin a month-ending five-game homestand versus the Memphis Grizzlies.
The Clippers lost all three games on a back-to-back-to-back three-game road trip, culminating with Thursday's 97-90 setback against the New Orleans Hornets in the Chris Paul's return to the Big Easy since his trade to the Clippers in the offseason. Paul, who was drafted by the Hornets with the fourth overall pick in 2005 and averaged 18.7 points and 9.9 assists over 425 career games with New Orleans, posted 16 points and nine assists.
Blake Griffin finished with a game high 21 points to go along with 11 rebounds, and was involved in an incident where Hornets forward Jason Smith collided with the dunk expert and tempers flared. No punches were thrown, but several Clippers came to the defense of Griffin after the flagrant foul.
"We've got to keep battling and keep fighting. We can't feel sorry and we can't make excuses," Clippers head coach Vinny Del Negro said. "We were taking too many plays off. We can't always try to make the home-run play instead of the smart, solid play."
Los Angeles is seeded fifth in the West and will also host the Hornets, Suns, Blazers and Jazz on the homestand. It is 15-8 in front of the home crowd this season. Clippers guard Mo Williams is doubtful for Saturday with an injured left big toe.
Memphis is right in the mix in out West, percentage points ahead of the Clips at No. 4 and will resume a four-game road trip tonight in the first of two straight matchups against the Staples Center co-tenants, the Clippers and Lakers.
The Grizzlies are 0-2 on the trek and have lost five of seven games, including Thursday's 97-93 setback against the Portland Trail Blazers in Rip City. Marc Gasol paced the Grizzlies with 22 points and nine rebounds, while Tony Allen poured in 17 points and Mike Conley added 13 for Memphis, which is 9-13 away from Beale Street and is in the midst of playing nine of 11 road games.
"It's a lot of things, but it's just energy and effort, our focus and our discipline," said Memphis head coach Lionel Hollins after the game. "Our discipline is out the window. We're just gambling all over the court and putting everybody in jeopardy."
Memphis and the Clippers will meet for the second time this season and are scheduled to play at FedEx Forum on April 9. The Clippers won the first matchup, 98-91, back on Jan. 26 thanks to 20 points, nine rebounds and eight assists from Griffin. Rudy Gay had 24 points in that one to pace the Grizzlies, who have lost three straight in the series.
The Grizzlies have lost eight of 10 games at the Clippers.
03/24 10:44:43 ET